Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Ticket to writhe

Last week I got a notice of intended prosection for speeding in the post. Yup, a speeding ticket. I wasn't speeding in the post, you understand. I was on a road. And I was caught bang to rights by a mobile camera doing 38mph in a 30mph zone. Me, not the camera obviously. I have no excuses. And poor sentence construction.

Yes, I could plead that I thought it was a 40mph zone. And I wouldn't be lying. I've driven the stretch of road in question dozens of times and I really did think there was a 40mph limit. The fact that I was doing 38mph supports this; I'm a pretty law-abiding driver and most car speedometers are uncallibrated and usually show 2-4 mph higher than your actual speed (check it against your Satnav). But, again, no excuses. There's signage there and I didn't see it or, if I did, I didn't pay attention. None of that, however, is the galling part of this story.

Because of my good driving record and clean licence - clean since I was 17 in 1978 - Thames Valley Police have offered me the option to attend a Speed Awareness Training Course instead of paying a fine and having three points on my spotless licence. The course costs more than the £60 fine I'd otherwise have to pay but (a) it means no penalty points and (b) my car insurance will stay at its current comfortably affordable level. But that still isn't the galling part of this story. No, the thought that is currently keeping me awake at night is having to attend a 4-5 hour course that will explain in nauseating detail the dangers of speeding.

In January I retired from a 30 year career as a cop in which I drove fast cars on a daily basis, chased bad guys and attended every advanced driving course they ever offered me. I didn't once crash my police car and, I'm pleased to report, nor have I ever been involved in an accident in 31 years of owning a full licence. I've seen countless road traffic accidents. I've pulled injured people, bodies and parts of bodies from the wreckage of automobiles. I've had people die in my arms. I know first hand how dangerous driving can be and how that danger is exacerbated by speeding. I am therefore dreading the prospect of spending the better part of the day being lectured by someone who's probably been on this planet for fewer years than I wore the uniform.


Still, that's the price I have to pay to keep my clean licence and, I must reiterate again, I am the bad guy here. I broke the law. I have to pay for that mistake.

At least it may go some way to showing that, despite accusations in certain tabloids and some public perceptions, the police don't 'look after their own'. Cops run the same risks as everyone else if they break the law. Every police officer you see driving on blue lights and sirens to get to a call is doing so on their own driving licence - there is no 'police driving licence'. If you commit an offence - even in a marked police car - the points go on your personal licence. Now, police officers are allowed to break speed limits and other rules of the road when on an emergency call. But break those same laws when not on a 999 call, you're up shite creek as several of my ex-colleagues found out when they tripped a speed camera in their pandas. They got the fine and the points, not the police.

I should be thankful for my course I guess but, truth is, I can taste the sucked eggs already.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Isn't that an oxymoron, 'speeding in the post'? I thought it generally known as snail mail...